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N. Korean Red Cross expresses sympathy for quake-ravaged Japan

North Korea's state-run media said Monday that the North's Red Cross sent a message of sympathy to its Japanese counterpart, a rare move considering the communist state has remained largely mum on the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.

"Jang Jae-on, chairman of the DPRK Red Cross Society, Monday sent a message of sympathy to Konoe Tadateru, president of the Japan Red Cross Society," said the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"Upon hearing the sad news that the northeastern part of your country was hit by unprecedented earthquake and tsunami that claimed huge casualties and material losses, I extend deep sympathy and consolation to you and, through you, to the victims and their families on behalf of the DPRK Red Cross Society," said the KCNA, quoting Jang's message.

The KCNA added that Jang said he hopes that the "living of the victims will come to normal as early as possible thanks to the positive efforts of your society."

In a separate release, the KCNA reported the damages caused by the earthquake and tsunami, including information on casualties, citing Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

The state media also noted explosions at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and the radioactive leakage that followed.

"In the wake of the explosion at the nuclear plant No. 1, nuclear plants No. 2 and No. 3 were put on emergency alert," the KCNA said, but did not mention the most recent explosion at the No.3 plant.

The KCNA also did not report the deaths of two ethnic Koreans with close ties to North Korea.

Earlier in the day, the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) said in its regular newspaper, the Chosun Sinbo, that the two had been laboring in a seaside village in the eastern Japanese prefecture of Ibaraki at the time of their deaths.

Chongryon is the largest organization of pro-Pyongyang ethnic Koreans in Japan that was formed in 1955.

(Yonhap News) 

South Korean Red Cross staff members organizes relief goods for Japanese victims hit by the biggest earthquake. (Yonhap News)
South Korean Red Cross staff members organizes relief goods for Japanese victims hit by the biggest earthquake. (Yonhap News)

<한글 기사> 

北적십자, 日대지진 피해에 위로 전문

장재언 위원장 명의…"피해자 생활 안착 바라"

북한이 14일 일본의 대지진  참사를 위로하는 전문을 보냈다고 조선중앙통신이 전했다.

장재언 조선적십자회 위원장은 고노에 다다테루(近衛忠煇) 일본적십자사 대표에게 보낸 전문에서 "귀국의 동북부 지방에서 발생한 전례 없는 지진 및 해일로 인해 많은 인명피해와 물질적 손실이 있었다는 불행한 소식을 접하게 돼 조선민주주의인민공화국 적십자회 이름으로 당신과 피해자, 또 그 가족들에게 깊은 동정과 위문을 보낸다"고 밝혔다.

장 위원장은 이어 "일 적십자사의 적극적인 노력에 의해 피해자들의 생활이 하루빨리 안착되기를 바란다"고 말했다.

일본의 지진 피해에 대한 북한의 위로전문 발송은 매우 이례적인 일로 북일수교 회담 재개 등을 감안한 화해 제스처로 풀이된다.

마쓰모토 다케아키(松本剛明) 일본 신임 외무상은 지난 9일 취임 직후 가진 기자회견에서 북한 핵•미사일•납치 문제 해결과 관련해서는 "(북한이) 적극적으로 성의있게 대응한다면, 마찬가지로 (성의있게) 대응할 의사가 있다"고 말했고, 마에 하라 전 외상이 밝힌 북일간 양자 대화 의사에 대해서도 "거부할 일은 아니다"라고 설명했다.

(평양 조선중앙통신=연합뉴스)

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